What is 'Blackfishing'? Here's why a Black publication was criticized after employing a white dating columnist

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Some critics have accused a white writer of "blackfishing." Here's what that means. (Illustration: Getty Images)
Some critics have accused a white writer of "blackfishing." Here's what that means. (Illustration: Getty Images)

MadameNoire, a self-described “space for the unapologetic black woman,” is sticking with its mission in a new way this week — by refusing to apologize to angry readers who accuse the publication of “digital blackface” and “blackfishing,” after discovering that one of its top dating columnists is a white woman.

“She’s in digital blackface because she always uses stock photos featuring Black women/families/couples and uses ‘sis’ and the inclusive ‘we’ as if she’s a Black woman,” blasted one Facebook user about the writer, Julia Austin. “In addition, she’s been a content contributor mostly for ‘Black’ platforms including Black America Web, NewsOne and a plethora of Black radio stations.” Others echoed the criticism online: “This woman has literally hundreds of articles she wrote for MadameNoire and in a lot of them she speaks on her personal experiences but never ONCE mentions she’s a white woman. I wonder why that is ... she didn’t want us to know! That’s blackfishing.

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